A quick connection


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ROCHESTER, MN — Many people travel from Rochester to the Twin Cities and back on a regular basis and now that trip could take a lot less time.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is meeting with area leaders to get some feedback on a proposed zip rail line, connecting the two areas.

It will not be a high speed process, but the beginning of many talks about a possible high speed option from Rochester to the Twin Cities have begun.

“People seem very excited and wanted more information about the process and timing and just the opportunity so I think it was very positive,” said Julie Fiesel, Government Affairs Director for the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.

Monday was the first of three public meetings about a zip rail line. It was held at the Heintz Center at Rochester Community & Technical College. There is one in Minneapolis Tuesday and Cannon Falls Thursday.

So far, the reaction has been good.

“It would be great both ways, for people going to the Twin Cities, but ideally for people coming here and it’s great for economic development bringing skilled workers to our area which will definitely be needed with the DMC,” Fiesel said.

The Destination Medical Center Project will bring more people to the area but even now, many already make their way to Rochester for work.

“On any given day there are four or six motor coaches that bring workers from the Twin Cities to Rochester for work and we need to look at alternatives to driving,” said Dan Krom, Passenger Rail Director for MnDOT.

Krom and those with MnDOT discovered an alternate option by looking to the past.

“This country used to be criss-crossed by passenger rail lines and then the advent of the interstate highway system, the rail services went away and everybody went with a car,” Krom said.

With the rising cost of gas and a commute that currently averages an hour and 20 minutes, speeds of up to 150 to 220 miles per hour seems like an option that makes sense.

“We’re talking 40 to 45 minutes from the Twin Cities to Rochester, that’s a very attractive way to get here. It’s actually shorter than many, probably most commutes in the Twin Cities, so it makes it a very viable option for people to live other places and come work here,” Fiesel said.

Krom said he has been working closely with the Iowa DOT on this project since they have an aggressive program with plans to connect Chicago with several Iowa cities. That route would run through some Iowa cities and end in Omaha.

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